Celt Wyatt Kessler tangles with a North Salem Viking Thursday, Feb. 5. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Celt Wyatt Kessler tangles with a North Salem Viking Thursday, Feb. 5. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

The McNary High School varsity wrestling team survived a dual meet with North Salem High School by the skin of its teeth Thursday, Feb. 5.

The Celtics won 38-37. It came down to a few matches decided by pin rather than decision, said Jason Ebbs, McNary head coach.

“Ryan Edsall is a kid who goes out and competes well for us every week, but he doesn’t always come away with the pins. He got one against North Salem and it turned out to be an important one,” Ebbs said.

Edsall got the pin in the second round, scoring six points for the team.

“It came down to having the whole team behind me,” Edsall said. “We’ve made a lot of progress in becoming more of a family and it’s shown on the mat.”

Other winners for the Celts were: Alvarro Venegas, pin in 1:09; Joey Kibbey, pin in 31 seconds; Johnathon Phelps, major decision, 12-3; Carlos Vincent, major decision, 15-7; and Taran Purkey, pin in 59 seconds.

Despite some “oddball” challenges such as a couple of wrestlers not making weight, McNary traveled to a tournament at West Linn High School the next day and won the whole thing.

“We kind of limped into that one, but we’re not looking for excuses for why we lost, we want reasons to win,” Ebbs said.

The biggest notch in the Celtic belt was taking a win over seventh-ranked West Linn High School. McNary came out on top in a close 36-32 final score.

“On paper, that’s not a match we’re supposed to win, but the kids found a way,” Ebbs said. “For every guy they put on the mat, we had someone who stepped up to the challenge.”

Match winners were: Pablo Barrera, major decision, 16-7; Kibbey, pin in 5:02; Brayden Ebbs, pin in 2:36; J. Phelps, tech fall, 15-0 in 5:46; Wyatt Kessler, decision, 6-1; Venegas, pin in 3:43; and Kyle Bonn, pin in 4:54.

The Celtics also beat Barlow High School 46-33 in the tournament. It was something like revenge for the loss McNary took to the Bruins at the Oregon Classic in January.

“That was a match I thought we should have won before, and it was nice to see the kids come full circle,” Ebbs said.

Winners in the dual meet with Barlow were: Kibbey, pin in 5:02; Sean Burrows, major decision, 13-1; Purkey, pin in 32 seconds; Venegas, pin in 2:40; and Bonn, pin in 1:41.

Kibbey said his West Linn and Barlow matches were the toughest of the week.

“They were both tough guys. I kept getting near falls, but they never gave up,” Kibbey said. Kibbey wrestled at 113 pounds in the tournament, but hopes to wrestle at 106 in the district meet next week.

“I’m really happy with the team results this week,” Ebbs said. “There’s a big hand-off of responsibility at this point in the season. We’ve trained hard for three months and it’s time to let the horses run.”